Cardinal José T. Sánchez, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, was born on March 17, 1920 in Pandan, diocese of Virac, in the Philippines.
He attended the seminary of the Holy Rosary in Naga City and obtained a doctorate in theology at the UST of Manila. He was ordained a priest on May 12, 1946.
As a priest, he carried out an intense pastoral activity in Sorsogon and Legazpi, dioceses in which for a period, was vicar general. He also taught at the minor seminary of Sorsogon, Academy of St. Agnes, superior school of Albay and at the Aquinas University in Legazpi city. He also taught at the major seminary of the Holy Rosary in Naga City.
On February 5, 1968, he was elected titular Bishop of Lesvi and Auxiliary of Caceres. He received episcopal ordination on May 12, 1968. On December 12, 1972 he was named Coadjutor of the Bishop of Lucena whom he succeeded on September 25, 1976.
From 1970, he was a member of the Administrative Council of the Conference of Bishops of the Philippines; from 1976, President of the Committee for the Apostolate of the Laity; from 1976 to 1980, co-president of a Church-military commission; and from 1981 to 1985, member of the permanent commission of the Federation of the Asian Bishops’ Conferences. In 1974, he was a delegate of the Philippines at the III Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to evangelization
On January 12, 1982 he became Archbishop of Nueva Segovia and resigned on March 22, 1986. From October 30, 1985 until 1991, he was Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
As Secretary of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples, in the Encyclical Redemptoris missio he offered a comment especially in reference to the specific aspects inherent to the activity of his dicastery.
July 1991 he was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy (until June 1996).
1991-1993, President of Commission for Preservation of Artistic and Historic Patrimony of the Church.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of June 28, 1991, of the Title of St. Pius V a Villa Carpegna (deaconry raised pro hac vice to presbyteral title).